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July 28, 2006
Contact: Doug Dunbar

Federal Government Approves and Supports Maine's
Plan for Successful Implementation of Help America Vote Act

AUGUSTA, MAINE – Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap announced on Friday that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has accepted Maine’s plan to implement the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. The plan includes timelines for meeting requirements, such as the statewide implementation of a Central Voter Registration (CVR) system and an Accessible Voting Solution (AVS) to help individuals with disabilities vote with privacy and independence.

Although many HAVA provisions have already been carried out in Maine including provisional voting, an administrative complaint procedure, new voter registration applications, and new voting system standards with a uniform definition of what constitutes a vote, the Justice Department is seeking through a consent decree to support the state’s efforts to fully comply with HAVA by the November 7, 2006 General Election.

“Maine has a long-standing reputation as a national leader in election laws that promote participation, in outstanding voter turnout, and in smoothly conducted elections. We are pleased to work with the federal government to ensure that Maine demonstrates leadership in successfully carrying out all Help America Vote Act requirements,” Secretary of State Dunlap commented.

The Central Voter Registration system has been under development since funding became available in 2003, but was slowed by the inability of a contractor to satisfy Maine’s schedules and high quality standards. Nevertheless, the Secretary of State assured the success of interim elections and the project is on track with a different contractor. This new computerized, statewide system will dramatically change the way voter registration data is recorded and maintained.

The creation of this system requires moving approximately one million voter registration records from more than 500 municipalities into a single system. Until now, those records have been maintained with care on the local level—but in a great variety of ways. In many cases, the records are on cards or paper lists, sometimes maintained in the home of the municipal voter registrar. In other cases, voting records have been kept on an assortment of computer programs. Consequently, the transfer of voter registration information to the CVR is a complex and time-consuming effort.

Although local election officials will continue to process voter registrations, this new statewide computerized network will enable lists to be more quickly and thoroughly updated. Better maintained lists will strengthen the integrity of the overall voting process. The new system will also offer municipal election officials a uniform and efficient process for voter registration and election management.

To meet HAVA’s Accessible Voting Solution requirement, the State of Maine recently selected a new type of voting equipment to help individuals with disabilities vote with privacy and independence—a first such opportunity for many. It is anticipated that this equipment will be available in all voting locations this November.

“Maine and the Justice Department share a common goal of full and successful implementation of the Help America Vote Act. We’re working to modernize our election process and make it even stronger, and are pleased that the DOJ has approved our plan for doing so,” Dunlap added.